How to we encourage parent involvement?
As we all know, the key to success in speech and language therapy is not limited to what takes place within the four walls of our therapy room. What’s our main goal?
This is why it is so important to get our parents onboard with what we’re trying to accomplish. I have been so lucky to work with parents who are invested and always ask what they can do at home to support what we do in the therapy room.
How do I do it?
I make it a point to introduce myself and create an open form of communication with all of my parents. We see our kiddos several times a week in most cases, so I do my best to be the “approachable therapist”. tTat way, parents feel comfortable coming to me with concerns and moments of progress. At the end of the day, we really do value our clients and their families and we love to see that our dedication is helping them in their everyday lives!
Recently, I have been sending home notes via email…and can I just say that it has made a HUGE difference in my relationship with families! I used to write up a quick home note on paper and send it home with my kids and that would really be the end of it. Now, I use the same template/format that I use with my paper notes but I email it out as an attachment. This is another way to form that “open communication”. Parents respond with questions and notes of “thanks”; they can seek clarification and share their experiences at home with what we’ve been practicing. The best part? I can even send home practice worksheets as attachments! No printing required :)
For the kids I see in their school environment, I am not able to speak with their parents in person after each session. This is why I schedule periodic phone calls to check in and see how the progress is going at home. I know, you’re wondering how on earth I can find time to fit in phone calls…when you think about it though, it’s not like I’m calling 10 parents a day. I fit them in one by one throughout my week whenever I have a free 5 minutes. Sounds daunting, but the payoff is HUGE when it comes to that whole “open communication” thing…
Team cohesion is a big part of carryover. If the child is working with an occupational therapist, physical therapist, behavioral therapist, etc. I try to get in touch with them (given parent permission of course) to discuss strategies that I use in my sessions and ask them about their strategies as well! I love walking past rooms seeing my OT team members using Aided Language Input with my AAC kids (you ladies know who you are…and I love you for this!). We’re all working towards a common goal…it’s unifying and we know we have support when we need it!
Every once in awhile I ask my parents to pop in and see what we’re doing within the therapy room. I utilize the time to train parents to use strategies and help them engage with their kids. Sometimes, parents just need reassurance that they’re doing the right thing when it comes to building speech and language at home.
I have found that sending home activities or strategies that can be done during typical, routine daily activities makes it more likely for the parents to actually do it. Think about all the things they already have to do as parents- it can be overwhelming to send home elaborate activities. Think of how language can be supported in daily activities like cooking, brushing teeth, and taking a bath!
No matter how you go about it, creating that bond with parents and families is crucial to helping our kids generalize their newly gained skills.
Until next time…